Workshop held to “reconnect” women

Reconnecting Samoan women leaders to their core values and culture was the focus of a one-day Indigenous Women in Leadership workshop. 

Organised by the RISE2025 team, the event was held at the Taumeasina Island Resort. 

RISE2025 was led by its founder, Maori businesswoman Rachel Petero and facilitated by Apulu Tu’u’u Mary Kalala Autagavaia. 

The workshop focused on three key areas: setting up for success, understanding the value of values, and planning for success.

“Culture is from God,” said Apulu. 

“Being Samoan and not being apologetic about it means finding that space in business and in leadership to bring our culture into it.

Remembering the strong women in our lineage, who were the paramount leaders of Samoa, was the first step towards framing leadership through an indigenous lens that is unique to Samoan culture.  

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“One of things that our colonial experience has done is that it has made us not remember the things that we ought to remember, and to remember women like Nafanua,” she said. 

“We have to remember the Salamasinas, we have to remember the Lupefofoaivaoeses. We have to remember Nafanua, who collected the power but then also re-distributed the power. Think about your mothers, think about your grandmothers.”

President and C.E.O. of Samoa Stationery and Books, Tofilau Fiti Leung Wai, delivered a speech about honour and faith based leadership. 

For Tofilau, being the sole shareholder and director of a company is not for the faint hearted, as she had to step up and not be wavered from her core principles and values, despite the challenges.

In this respect, Tofilau told the gathering of five leadership principles she applies to her life and work as well as the common pitfalls that leaders should avoid.

“The famous American football coach Vince Lombardi once said that ‘Leaders are made, they are not born’. They are made by hard effort, which is the price all of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.” 

Tofilau said she is unapologetic about her faith-based leadership, which places God at the top followed by her uncompromised view that true leadership begins by honouring authority.

“Another reason you need to honour authority is so that when you are ready to be a full-fledged leader; you will then receive all God’s blessings. Why? Because God saw that you honoured his appointed leader.”

The workshop concluded with presentations of certificates for the women who participated followed by a dinner featuring guest speaker from United Nations Women, Papalii Mele Mauala.

The workshop was held in partnership with the Samoa Business Network. 

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